Johnston explains how he coped in captivity

Kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has not ruled out returning to the Middle East, despite plans to work in London in the new year.

Johnston, who was part of a News Xchange panel entitled Journalism Held Hostage told Press Gazette: ‘I will go back to Middle East correspondence at some point.

‘But for now, I’m enjoying the freedom and getting over the past.”

Johnston said he expects to return to a post within BBC World Service in London in 2008.

To suggestions that he might return to Gaza, Johnston said he’d ‘do anything’to sit at the beach cafes and talk politics with friends.

But, he lightheartedly added that the idea of turning around and asking the BBC to do the same again was too much.

Johnston detailed the emotions he felt both as a captive and upon his release on 4 July after 114 days of captivity in Gaza and expressed his gratitude to journalists worldwide for their support.

He spoke at length about his state of mind during that time and the battle to keep from despair.

Of his captors he said: ‘If I gave way to hating kidnappers – that would have been a really powerful emotion – an emotion difficult to take, like loss, sadness would be unleashed as well. I saw them as a problem – not something emotional.

Johnston spoke about ‘passages of despair’he experienced and said he battled daily to combat this with logic. ‘The truth is that, like going to the gym for four months makes your body better, my mind is in better shape than at the beginning.

‘I spent 18 hours a day seeing how the mind works.”

He said one of the weirdest experiences after his release was reading Sunday newspapers which speculated ‘on what were the contents of my mind”.

He said he feared his kidnapping would prevent others from reporting in the region.

‘It would be a disaster because it’s inevitable that people will decide not to go,’he commented.

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